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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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COURAGE.ἀνδρίζομαι, the Gr. equivalent for Heb. חָוַק and אָמַץ is not found in the Gospels, and, except in 1 Corinthians 16:13, not in the NT. The valour of the battlefield, so often commended in the OT, nowhere tomes into view. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. It does not call for the prowess of the warrior. But there was no taint of cowardice in Jesus, and to be His disciple did not involve any slackening of moral fibre, or impairing of true manliness. He foresaw a situation bristling with menace to His followers, and courage was therefore a prime desideratum in His disciples, as it was an outstanding quality of His own nature. With unsparing hand He lifted the curtain of the future, and disclosed to all who would follow Him the hostility and peril which discipleship must involve (Matthew 5:11; Matthew 10:16-39; Matthew 24:9 ff., Mark 13:9-13, Luke 21:12 ff., John 15:20; John 16:2). He who would follow Christ must not be faint-hearted or double-minded (Luke 9:62), he must be prepared to surrender many interests that were formerly dear to him, brace himself even to the renunciation of the closest earthly relationships, and, recognizing that the disciple is not greater than his Master, be ready to tread the same rough path, and bear the same cross. The demand for courage is all the more severe that it is not the courage of resisting, but of enduring wrong. The disciple of Jesus is called to meekness, to the patient endurance of suffering wrongfully inflicted, to the heroism of a calm and trustful heart. But the meek temper is not the sign of weakness. It is I restrained strength. It is the high courage of endurance, in the spirit and for the sake of Christ. It is of this sustained heroism that Jesus says, ‘In your patience (ὑπομονή, ‘patient endurance’) ye shall win your souls’ (Luke 21:19), ‘He that endureth to the end shall be saved’ (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13); and those who, in spite of pain and persecution, confess Him before men, He declares He will confess before His Father and the holy angels (Luke 12:8, cf. Matthew 10:32).

Of this high moral courage Jesus Himself is the supreme example. The emphasis which is so rightly laid upon His gentleness and compassion tends to obscure His strength and virility. But the remark in Acts 4:13 ‘When they saw the boldness of Peter and John … they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus,’ is the record of the dominant impression made by Jesus, upon His enemies. The depth and warmth of His sympathy had not deluded them into the thought that He was deficient in courage. They bore witness to His fearlessness and fidelity to truth (John 7:26, Matthew 22:16). His fearless exposure of hypocrisy (Matthew 15:1-14, Mark 7:1-13, Matthew 23:1-39 et al.), His disregard of, or opposition to, religious practices which had been invested with the sanctity of Divine law, and the performance of which was the hall-mark of righteousness (Matthew 9:14; Matthew 12:1; Matthew 12:9, Mark 2:18-22; Mark 7:1, Luke 3:33; Luke 6:1-6), His defiance of social and religious caste in receiving sinners and eating with them were the moral utterances of a courageous righteousness and love (Matthew 9:10, Luke 15:2). In circumstances of danger He is calm and self-possessed (Matthew 8:26). He does not rush into danger, and more than once retires from scenes where His life is threatened (Luke 4:30, John 8:59; John 10:39). At those times He felt that His hour had not come. His courage was inspired by faith in God (Matthew 8:26), and was controlled by obedience to the Divine will. When He knows that His hour has come, He presses to the cross with an eagerness which made those who saw Him afraid (Mark 10:32). But it is only as we enter into the consciousness of Jesus and see Him in His perfect purity of soul taking upon Him the sin of the world, that we feel the wonder of His heroism. We do not marvel that He shrank from the cup His Father gave Him to drink. We are amazed equally at the love and at the courage which bore Him through until He said, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). See, further, Fear.

Literature.—Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Courage’; Aristotle, Ethics, iii. 6–9; Denney, Gospel Questions and Answers, p. 85 ff.

Joseph Muir.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Courage'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament.​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​c/courage.html. 1906-1918.